• Mark J. Keenan

Reinforcing foundations


Yesterday, I caught up with an old friend. Old, as in he is older than me (by more than one whole month). And also old, as in we've been mates for thirty-five years, since we were seventeen and in our final year of high school.


We don't see each other often, but when we do I always come away with a deep sense of gratitude. For his friendship, for the infinite improbabilities which brought us into each other's orbit, and for the gravitational force of humour and humanity which keep us there.


Jason and I have things in common of course which help hold us together. Some are simple and obvious. Others are less so.

  • We are both engineers.

  • We both like Midnight Oil and Monty Python.

  • We love our children and want to be great fathers.

  • We are connected to nature.

  • We have a sense of humour which we would call cerebral, and others would call wacky.

  • We like to philosophise and muse about the world and our place in it. We have been called serious. And childish. We have been, and are, both.

  • We are always trying to be better than we were yesterday, for others, and for ourselves.

  • And we've both had to build our own foundations, for different reasons and in our own way, to keep ourselves upright.

Looking back, I can see where he was, the pain and difficulty that was in his life. And he can see mine. We didn't know then how to talk about it, at least not deeply, certainly not in a way which might help. But I believe we saw it and acknowledged it somehow. Subconsciously perhaps. And supported and connected with each other in the only way we were able to at the time - through music and beer, football and practical jokes, bullshit and laughter - by being the best friends we could.


I haven't been to a gig with Jase for five years and he doesn't care as much anymore if I rag on South Fremantle Football Club. And I don't drink beer, so that's off the table too, along with the bullshit since, most of the time at least, it needs alcohol to fuel it. And neither of us would probably dare pull a serious prank these days, especially if we felt it'd upset someone (and what useful prank doesn't).


But we still have humour. And laughter. And some things we didn't have before, or at least couldn't quite reach. Things combined which trump all the others, reinforce the self-made foundations and fills in the cracks.


Vulnerability and authenticity, empathy and kindness.


And that makes me grateful.